The Código de Trabajo (Labour Code) in Costa Rica establishes a mandatory payment for nine of the eleven public holidays a year.

The mandatory paid holidays are:

  • January 1, Año Nuevo (New Year’s)
  • April 11, Día de Juan Santamaría
  • Thursday and Friday of Semana Santa (Holy Week)
  • May 1, Día Internacional del Trabajo (Labour Day)
  • July 25, Anexión del Partido de Nicoya a Costa Rica
  • August 15, Día de la Madre (Mother’s Day
  • September 15, Independencia de Costa Rica (Independence Day)
  • December 25, Navidad (Christmas)

The two public holidays though not under mandatory pay are:

  • August 2, Día de la Virgen de los Ángeles
  • October 12, Día de las Culturas

sarapiquie_3In all the above holidays workers can demand the day off and receive their normal weekly, bi-monthly or monthly pay. If required to work on the holidays, the worker must be paid double their normal pay for the day.

All public holidays are on their calendar day. However, for the April 11, July 25 and October 12 holidays, if they fall on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, they are moved to the following Monday.

Employer and employee can agree merge holidays and vacation days. This flexibility is important for retailers or businesses whose main business days are weekends and holidays.

This week, Semana Santa, for instance is very confusing to foreigners when they read that the country’s employees get the week off. In the case of government employees and some private companies, in physical terms they are getting the entire week, from Saturday (March 24) to the following Sunday (March 31).

In legal terms, at best the employee is getting three days off,as Saturdays and Sundays are normal days off and Thursday and Friday of Semana Santa are legal holidays, leaving only Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as days off work without pay. However, in many cases, employees are asked to use their vacation days to make up for the three days.

For workers who are non Catholics the Labour Code allows for time off to celebrate their religious festivals. For that, the employee must obtain permission from his/her employer for not more than four days off a year, provided that such days are you are registered with the Relaciones Exteriores y Culto or are included in executive order 25570 of October 7, 1996. The employer can give time off work to employees and ask it be made up or deducted from vacations, as jointly agreed.

The foregoing information is general. For specialized consultations, you should contact the Ministerio de Trabajo y Seguridad Social. Their contact information is on their website.

Source: Ministerio de Trabajo y Seguridad Social (MTSS)


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